Why parents are hurting the aggregate industry

By |  August 4, 2017

The weekday afternoon drive here in Cleveland affords locals the opportunity to tune in to “The Mike Trivisonno Show” on WTAM 1100.

Of course, not everyone in the area is a fan of Trivisonno, who earned the moniker “Mr. Know It All” many years ago. Trivisonno isn’t afraid to speak his mind on even the touchiest subjects, and he undoubtedly prides himself on being a man of reason in an increasingly unreasonable world.

Trivisonno’s blunt approach often captures my attention, and his recent take on the state of education in America got me thinking about labor, one of the major challenges the aggregate industry currently faces.

Perhaps the Trivisonno statement that struck me most was this: Parents are embarrassed to say when their kids aren’t going to college.

Think about that for a moment: Parents are embarrassed when that scenario unfolds. The concept is absurd, but deep down I believe there’s truth in that statement.

I polled a few colleagues the day after this particular radio show, asking them if they’d be embarrassed if their kids didn’t go to college. No one would admit as much, but that didn’t stop them from suggesting their friends would bear shame if their kids didn’t go to college.

I can’t speak as a parent. But looking back to when I was 18, there would have been some headshakes in my circle had I not pursued a four-year degree. At that age, there was pressure to keep up with the crowd. And I can imagine the pressure on kids (and parents) is as intense today as it was then.

Target the parents

It’s unfortunate there’s pressure like this related to higher education. As we all know, not every kid is a fit for college. And, as Trivisonno plainly states, we need more than college students if this country is going to function properly.

Aggregate industry stakeholders know this as well as anyone. Producers and manufacturers alike have been tossing and turning in their sleep for years trying to come up with solutions to labor shortages – and shortages that could come.

The ultimate solution to this challenge, though, is to fundamentally change the mindsets of parents (and, in turn, their kids), many of whom see the four-year college as the only path to success.

Industries like ours have largely been targeting kids to educate them about the job opportunities available, and rightfully so. But parents should be targeted for messaging, as well. Parents, after all, put their kids on a pathway to college from the moment they’re born. Many parents put money aside over the course of 18 years with the explicit intention of sending them to college.

That intent is all well and good, but it’s a little silly when you think about it to have such a narrow-minded approach about higher education from day one.

So change the mindset. It’s a necessary change that will fundamentally yield more results on the dire labor front in the years to come.

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